Previously on Game of Thrones: Joffrey went from being a little tick to being a completely out of control, sociopathic asshole, but Margaery was planning to marry him anyway. Theon was taken prisoner and tortured into a pile of mush, and apparently Bran can put himself into the minds of animals.
It’s a lovely day for a hunt, and Ramsay Snow is out in the woods, accompanied by Theon and some girl, hunting…some other girl. The poor creature evades the dogs for a while, which is impressive, but then gets cornered and receives an arrow courtesy of Ramsay’s girlfriend, who seems to be pretty well matched to him in the insanity department. Ramsay explains to their quarry that she made his girlfriend jealous, so now she has to go. And then he lets the dogs tear her apart. ‘Not so pretty now,’ his girlfriend observes, watching impassively. Jesus, what is it about Westros that breeds these people? Also: Theon’s an almost unrecognisable, twitching mess.
Cut to Tyrion having breakfast with Jaime, being served sausages (heh) and complimenting his brother’s new gilded hand. Jaime’s still depressed about not having a right hand, so Tyrion cheers him by proposing a toast to the Lannister children: the dwarf, the cripple, and the mother of madness. That helps, but then Jaime knocks over a goblet and gets frustrated again. Tyrion just pours him some more wine and Jaime admits he can’t fight anymore. Tyrion says he can, he just needs training up with the other hand, and fortunately, Tyrion has just the right man to help him out. It’s kind of nice to have a scene with the two brothers that reminds us that they tended to get along fairly well.
Jaime’s sent to meet Bronn at some super-secret but incredibly picturesque sparring area near the coast. Jaime gives Bronn a bag full of gold and grabs his new sword. Bronn warns him not to start off with an edged blade, because Bronn will kill him, and gives him a sparring sword instead. They get started immediately, because Bronn fights a little dirty, which is probably what Jaime needs. Jaime starts getting his ass kicked, but recovers and they get started properly.
Roose Bolton arrives home and greets Ramsay, who looks a bit nervous. Roose asks immediately to see Theon and is taken inside. Roose is not pleased to see the condition Theon’s in, because he was hoping to use him as a hostage to barter for Moat Cailin, which is held by the Ironborn and apparently is the key to taking the North. But Theon’s father isn’t going to give a shilling for his son now. Ramsay tells his dad he already asked for Moat Cailin, as he was acting Lord of Dreadfort, and Theon’s dad turned him down. He reassures his dad that Theon was once an enemy, but now he’s placid, and that can be useful. To prove his point, he has Theon give him a nice close shave and has him admit that the boys he killed at Winterfell were not Bran and Rickon after all. When pressed, Theon suggests the boys headed north, to find Jon Snow at Castle Black. And he’s now so beaten down he doesn’t even get upset when Ramsay tells him that Roose killed Robb Stark. Roose sends one of his men off to hunt down the boys and dispatches Ramsay to Moat Cailin to conquer it for the family.
Varys meets Tyrion in the garden and tells him that Shae’s presence has been noted by Cersei, so it’s only a matter of time before Tywin is made aware. Tyrion asks Varys to cover for them, but Varys isn’t willing to put his neck on the line for Tyrion’s paramour. He suggests sending her across the sea, where Varys has friends who could help her.
Tyrion then has to go to a breakfast ceremony where Joffrey’s being presented with wedding gifts. Margarey’s father gives a lovely goblet, while Ceresei points out Shae to her father, so apparently that message has already been received. It’s Tyrion’s turn to give a gift, and his is a valuable book on the lives of four great kings. There’s a long pause where Joffrey’s probably considering whether or not to be offended by this, but then he says that now the war’s won, everyone should find time for wisdom. Wow, that was actually a fairly gracious response. Suspiciously so. His next present is the other Valyrian steel sword from Tywin. Joffrey gets all excited, like a little kid on Christmas, grabs it, and immediately uses it to hack apart Tyrion’s book. Yeah, that seems more like him. Then he crowdsources a name for it (Widow’s Wail) and comments that every time he uses it it’ll be like cutting off Ned Stark’s head all over again. Wow. Need I say that Sansa is sitting right there as he says that? Joffrey’s future father-in-law is starting to look uncomfortable.
Later, Tyrion summons Shae to his room. She thinks it’s for nookie but it’s really so he can tell her to get the hell out of the country. He’s made arrangements for her to go to Pentos and have a nice house and a good life. He tries to put this down to the fact that he’s married now and doesn’t want to cause his wife future suffering, but she knows that’s BS, so he has to go to plan B: being incredibly mean. He reminds Shae that she’s a whore and isn’t fit to bear his children. It clearly pains him to do this, but it’s effective. She begins to sob. He lets Bronn in, to escort her to the ship. She doesn’t go quietly, but she goes.
In Dragonstone, Melisandre is burning people at the stake now, including Stannis’s brother-in-law. If this is entertainment in this place someone seriously needs to invent cable TV. Once the show’s over, Davos falls into step beside Stannis and quietly tells him it’s kind of shitty to kill one’s own relatives just for believing in different gods. Stannis doesn’t really care. Stannis’s creepy wife is unperturbed by all of this. In fact, she’s downright delighted that the dead people’s souls were taken by the Lord of Light.
The party goes and immediately has dinner, which Stannis is displeased with. Keep in mind that eating and violence seem to go very much hand in hand this episode. His wife, Selyse, tells Melisandre how, during one siege, Stannis boiled books for her to eat, since the bindings were made of horse. Yum! He also grilled seagulls for her. I always wondered what seagull tasted like. Selyse moves on and says she fears for her daughter’s soul, because she’s wilful. She thinks the kid needs some corporal punishment, but Stannis won’t hear of it, so she suggests Melisandre speak with the child.
Down to the dungeon Melisandre goes to visit little Shireen and to teach her about the evils of polytheism.
Up in the frozen north, Bran’s Warg-ing out again, wandering the woods in the guise of his direwolf and hunting down a deer. But then Meera wakes him, because he’s been under for hours, and that’s bad. Jojen understands the appeal of being in Summer’s skin, but warns Bran that he could end up forgetting he’s human. Meera adds that they can’t go losing him. They eat a little, then continue on their way until they come to a large, white tree with red leaves somewhat reminiscent of the tree in the Godswood at Winterfell. Bran has Hodor take him to the tree, and when he touches it, he flashes through a series of images that include him being thrown from the tower by Jaime, someone sharpening a sword, the three-eyed raven, Ned Stark’s eye, one of the zombie horses, and the raven flying over King’s Landing. He takes his hand away and tells the others he knows where they need to go.
Wow, King’s Landing looks a lot like most Italian cities from the sky. Joffrey and Margaery are getting married, and it looks like she never did find a great necklace, because the one she’s wearing is really unimpressive. The ceremony goes off without a hitch, but it’s worth noting that Tyrion and Sansa are really slow to applaud at the end. Understandably. ‘We have a new queen,’ Sansa drily observes to her husband. ‘Better her than you,’ he responds.
Time for the reception, which is always where things go pear-shaped in this world, right? Tywin and Oleanna spar a bit over money on the way there, and also talk about the possibility of the Ironborn stirring up trouble. Tywin’s not concerned.
The reception’s being held in the gardens, and it looks like they’ve got a circus’s worth of entertainers there contorting themselves, juggling, breathing fire, etc. Bronn reassures Tyrion that Shae was put on the ship, and tells him he did the right thing. Tyrion still looks sad. Oleanna takes the opportunity to tell Sansa how sorry she is about her brother. ‘Killing a man at a wedding? Horrid. What sort of man would do such a thing? As if men need more reasons to fear marriage,’ she says. Heh. She invites Sansa to visit Highgarden sometime and Sansa seems pleased by that.
A really boring trio of musicians is playing for the head table. Joffrey throws some money at them and tells them to get lost, startling Margaery, who recovers and suggests Joffrey make ‘the announcement.’ He stands and gets everyone’s attention so Margarey can speak. She announces that the leftovers from the feast will be given to the poor of the city. Everyone applauds. Well, except Varys, Sansa, and Tyrion, all of whom would clearly rather be somewhere—anywhere—else right now.
Loras catches Oberyn’s eye and the two clearly make a connection. But then Jaime comes over and brings up Loras’s impending marriage to Cersei. He warns Loras that Cersei will murder Loras in his sleep if they marry, but fortunately, that’s unlikely to ever happen. Loras gets in a decent dig by pointedly telling Jaime that he won’t be marrying Cersei either, before sweeping off.
Brienne approaches the head table and bows to Joffrey and Margarey. Margarey greets her warmly while Cersei laughs at her for bowing. Brienne politely says she never mastered the curtsey before congratulating Margaery and Joffrey. Margarey thanks her graciously. As Brienne moves away, Cersei catches her and thanks her for returning Jaime to them. Brienne says he actually rescued her and Cersei moves on to comment on how many different people Brienne’s served in the past few months or however long it’s been since Brienne was in Renley’s camp. She flat-out asks Brienne if she loves Jaime, and notably, Brienne doesn’t answer. She just looks a bit devastated. Jaime looks on, concerned, from a distance.
That damage done, Cersei goes over to Pycelle to just be a total bitch, because she’s Cersei and that’s what she does when she’s in a bad mood. She tells him to get lost and go to the kitchens and tell them that all the leftovers will be fed to the dogs. Man, she’s petty.
Dontos, the former knight-turned-jester who gave Sansa the necklace last week, is trying to entertain Joffrey, who makes his own entertainment by offering a prize to anyone who can knock the man’s hat off. Cue a rain of fruit coming the poor man’s way. He flees. By the way, Sansa’s wearing the necklace, which is sweet.
Tywin and Cersei are wandering through the reception when they run into Oberyn and Illyria. He gets a dig in at Cersei by calling her the former queen regent, so Cersei gets some of her own back by making a rude reference to Illyria’s illegitimacy. Everyone recovers, Oberyn and Cersei exchange a few barbs, and then Oberyn refers to the rape and murder of his sister and her children and tells Cersei she’s lucky her daughter now lives in a place where such things are considered abhorrent.
Joffrey calls for silence and says they’ve had too much amusement, and now it’s time for a history lesson. Out comes a troupe of little people who proceed to re-enact the War of the Five Kings. Wow. It’s a predictably embarrassing spectacle. So embarrassing the Martells all look horrified that this asshole is actually now a member of their family. Margarey can’t even hide her mortification, and Loras, faced with the prospect of being related to Joffrey twice over through marriage, just gets up and leaves. Good for him. Some of the crowd cheer, but Varys is very much not amused. Tyrion, recognising this for the smackdown it is, tells Poldrick to pay the actors handsomely when this is over, and comments that they’ll have to find another way to thank the king. The performance goes on and on. Sansa looks sick. So does Margaery. Joffrey cackles. Oberyn looks like he expected no better from these people. At the end, the dwarf playing Joffrey picks up a paper mache direwolf’s head and pretends to have sex with it.
Finally, it ends, and Joffrey, now really full of himself, suggests Tyrion join in. Tyrion manages to control his rage and pleasantly tells Joffrey that one taste of combat was quite enough for him. But then he suggests Joffrey fight them, as this was a poor imitation of Joffrey’s bravery during the Battle of Blackwater. Oooh, burn. Joffrey gets back at him by childishly pouring wine over his head. Even his little brother, Tommen, is put off by that. Tyrion remains calm, and Margaery steps in, calling Joffrey back so her father can give his toast. But Joffrey now has no wine, so he orders Tyrion to be his cupbearer, making it clear this is no honour. Tyrion obediently steps forward to take the goblet, which Joffrey tosses under the table. Sansa gives Joffrey an ‘oh, please’ look before fetching it herself and handing it to her husband, who holds it out to Joffrey. Joffrey orders him to fill it with wine, which Tyrion does, holding it out again. Joffrey’s not done and tells Tyrion to kneel before him. At this point, Tyrion starts to very reasonably look murderous. He doesn’t kneel, and Joffrey starts to get angry, but thankfully a giant pie’s brought in, and Margarey draws Joffrey’s attention to it. Joffrey grabs his new sword and cuts into the pie, releasing some doves (and slicing a few others right in half, which I always figured must have happened with these types of pies). Sansa quietly asks Tyrion if they can leave now, and he agrees. As they try to sneak away, Joffrey notices and calls them back so Tyrion can serve Joffrey some wine. Oleanna takes all of this in. Joffrey quaffs his wine greedily, and then starts coughing, then choking. He drinks more wine, but that only seems to make it worse. Margaery panics as Joffrey collapses and starts spitting blood. Cersei and Jaime rush to his side as Dontos races to Sansa’s and tells her she has to get out of there immediately.
Joffrey, who’s clearly been poisoned, gasps and chokes as he turns marble-grey and begins bleeding from his nose and eyes. He manages to point to Tyrion, who picks up the king’s dropped goblet, looking confused. Joffrey dies and Cersei sobs for a second before pointing the finger at her brother and accusing him of killing the king and ordering him arrested. Guards seize him and we get one last, welcome look at dead Joffrey.
Not so pretty now, eh?